The Best Capture Cards in 2021

If you’re into streaming or creating video game-centric content you can either use software tools to record or stream gameplay, or you can use capture cards. While PCs became quite powerful in recent years, allowing streamers to use software recording apps that work great on a powerful PC, you can still use a capture card in case your PC cannot stream/record gameplay and run games at playable framerate at the same time.

And if you own a console, a capture card is by far the best way to stream or record gameplay. The best capture card can record videos in crispy smooth 4K60fps without a hassle. Some models require a PC for exporting videos while others can record videos on their own. You technically can record videos on the PS4 and Xbox One via built-in tools but you’re limited when it comes to the length and resolution. Further, in case you want to stream games on Twitch or YouTube, you’ll have to get a capture card.

Below you’ll find the best capture cards on the market at the moment. We’ve included models that work great with every current console as well as PC. Finally, if you need a capture card for the upcoming PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X, we have a couple of models that should work fine with both next-gen consoles. If you’re into streaming, we highly recommend our list that features the best mics for streaming.

elgato game capture 4k60 pro
  • Max Recording Resolution: 4K at 60fps
  • Interface: PCIe Port
  • Video Ports: HDMI In, HDMI Out

The Elgato Game Capture 4K60 Pro is a premier capture card for PC that connects to the PC via PCIe port, allowing the card to record and capture crispy 4K footage at 60 frames per second, in HDR. In case you want to use the passthrough, it supports up to 4K resolutions and refresh rates up to 240Hz. Do note that 240Hz works only at 1080p. Recording at 1440p can go up to 144fps and 4K footage is limited to 60 fps. This isn’t a limitation of the card, it’s simply a limitation of the HDMI 2.0 technology. If you want a capture card with HDMI 2.1 that supports up to 4K and 120fps you need to wait a bit since, at the moment, there’s no HDMI 2.1 capture card on the horizon.

Anyway, this card is pretty versatile. You can use any combination of recording/capturing and HDMI passthrough. You can capture videos at 60fps while using a higher refresh rate if the resolution allows (1080p and 1440p). The card itself is pretty straightforward to use. Just hook it up to a vacant PCIe slot, hook up the HDMI port to the card, and turn on your PC. You can use either third-party software or Corsair’s own Elgato capture tool but we recommend the former. Third-party software, such as OBS or XSplit are easier to use and can capture videos at higher bitrates.

The card also supports using multiple software at the same time, which can be handy for some semi-professional users. When it comes to 4K HDR recording, do note that some Pascal (GTX 10xx) graphics cards can have issues with 4K HDR content. The card also supports all current consoles and thanks to its 4K@60 pass through it is a solid choice for PS5 and Xbox Series X owners who also own a PC. Overall, this is a high-end capture card that offers high-end specs, and that works great out of the box. Just remember that you’ll need a powerful PC to edit all that 4K HDR content.

  • Simple To Install And Use
  • Works Great With Third-Party Software
  • Excellent Video Quality
  • 4K@60fps and HDR Pass-Trough
  • Can Have Issues When Recording HDR Content On Pascal GPUs
  • Works Only On Windows 10
  • Pricey

AVerMedia Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus

The Best Capture Card For Nintendo Switch

avermedia live gamer portable 2 plus
  • Max Recording Resolution: 1080p at 60fps
  • Interface: Micro USB
  • Video And Audio Ports: HDMI In, HDMI Out, 3.5mm Audio Jack x 2 For Recording Audio

The Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus from AverMedia is a perfect little gadget to carry around capable of recording up to 1080p@60fps without the need of a PC. This makes this card the best choice for Switch owners due to the portable nature of the system. Just don’t forget to carry the dock with you since it’s needed for connecting the card. The recording is saved on an SD card, with the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus supporting microSD cards up to 128GB. All you have to do is connect the card to the console and press the recording button.

If you carry a laptop with your Switch, you can also use the card for live streaming. The card supports other consoles and while it cannot record in 4K resolution, it does come with a 4K pass-through which can be great for high-end PC owners as well as streamers who own a PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X. Do note that the card offers only two pass-through resolutions – 1080p and 2160p. If you have a 1440p monitor this card won’t work as a pass-through for a console. The card uses a micro USB to USB-A cable to connect to a PC (it requires USB 3.0 connection).

This card will also be a pretty solid choice for next-gen consoles since it offers 4K@60fps pass-through for those who are fine with 1080@60Hz recording quality. On the flip side, the card has high capture latency so you can’t use it to play games via capture software in case you have just one monitor. Also, if you like HDR in your console games forget about this card since its pass-through feature isn’t compatible with HDR content.

The software provided isn’t very powerful but it’s easy to use and offers enough features for amateur streamers and content creators. If you need something more powerful OBS or XSplit are better choices. Overall, the Live Gamer Portable 2 Plus is an excellent capture card for those who need high portability and standalone capture function.

  • Can Record Gameplay Directly On An SD Card
  • 4K@60 HDMI Pass-Through
  • Excellent Portability
  • Easy To Use
  • Works On Windows 10, 8, 7, and Max OS X
  • HDMI Pass-Through Doesn’t Support HDR
  • Comes With Micro-USB Instead Of USB-C
  • High Capture Latency

MiraBox Capture Card HSV321

The Best Budget Capture Card For Consoles

mirabox capture card hsv321
  • Max Recording Resolution: 1080p at 60fps
  • Interface: USB-A
  • Video Ports: HDMI In, HDMI Out

The MiraBox HSV321 is a great budget choice for users in need of a 1080p@60Hz capture card. It can record up to 1080p@60Hz footage, which is also the max resolution of the HDMI pass-through. This is more than enough for current-gen consoles (sans PS4 Pro and the Xbox One X) and since the card works with virtually any 720p and 1080p device you can use it with older consoles or for hooking up high-end cameras to use as webcams during streams.

The capture card doesn’t come with a capture software but it works fine with most capture and streaming apps. When it comes to the interface used for hooking it with the PC, it comes with a full-sized USB 3.0 port, which is a pretty good solution for a budget model. The card also works with the most popular Windows operating systems (starting with Windows 7) as well as with Mac OS and Linux.

Overall, the MiraBox HSV321 is a superb budget capture card. It’s great to use with the base PS4 and Xbox One consoles as well as with the Nintendo Switch. Those owning a PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X, as well as PC gamers playing at higher resolutions and high refresh rates, would be much better off with a 4K capture card.

  • Very Affordable
  • 1080p@60Hz Video Recording
  • Works Great With Most Consoles
  • Works On Windows, Mac OS, and Linux
  • Not Suitable For PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, And Next-Gen Consoles

Elgato Game Capture HD60 S

The Best Capture Card For PS4 & Xbox One S

elgato game capture hd60 s
  • Max Recording Resolution: 1080p at 60fps
  • Interface: USB-C
  • Video Ports: HDMI In, HDMI Out

Corsair recently released an upgrade for its HD60 capture card in the form of the HD60 S. The upgraded model ditches the h.264 encoder but also upgrades its connection interface from USB 2.0 to USB 3.0. The lack of the hardware encoder puts a bit more strain on your PC while streaming or recording but the presence of USB 3.0 (Type-C, another improvement) reduces capture latency, enabling users to play games in the capture window in case they own just one monitor. On the flip side, limited bandwidth doesn’t allow streaming and recording at the same time.

When it comes to base specs, the HD60 S offers 1080p@60fps recording along with a 1080p@60Hz HDMI pass-through. This is a perfect middle-ground for base consoles (PS4 and Xbox One S) that both top out at 1080p@60Hz, as well as for the Switch or smartphone streaming. We don’t recommend using the HD60 S for capturing PS4 Pro or Xbox One X gameplay since both consoles run most games at 4K resolution (native or upscaled). When it comes to recording quality, there are better cards out there, but the overall quality is good enough for most users.

When it comes to the software Corsair’s capture tool is solid for basic needs, but advanced users should stick to their capture software of choice. All things considered, the Elgato HD60 S is the best capture card you can get for the PS4 or the Xbox One S. It’s also a great solution for playing games and streaming gameplay on the same monitor, or playing consoles on monitors that don’t have an HDMI port (iMac for example). Despite lacking a hardware encoder, its hardware requirements are the same as for its predecessor. It’s a bit pricey but other than that, this card doesn’t have any major negative aside from its high price.

  • Simple To Use
  • Great For Playing And Streaming Games On One Monitor
  • Portable
  • USB-C Interface
  • 1080p HDMI Pass-Through Isn’t Great For PS4 Pro And Xbox One X
  • Pricey

Mirabox Game Capture Card HSV3217

Affordable And Portable Capture Card For Users On A Budget

mirabox game capture card hsv3217
  • Max Recording Resolution: 1080p at 60fps
  • Interface: USB-C
  • Video And Audio Ports: HDMI In, HDMI Out, 3.5mm Audio Jack x 2 For Recording Audio

If you need a portable capture card that won’t break the bank the Mirabox HSV3217 is an excellent choice. First of all, it’s pretty small and can be carried in any pocket or a bag. Next, it supports pretty much every console, PC, and cameras with HDMI out ports. That said, the HDMI pass-through is limited to 1080p@60fps but at least it has low latency, allowing users to play games via capture software in case they have one monitor or own a monitor without HDMI ports.

The interface used for connecting the card with a PC or Mac is USB 3.1 with a USB-C port found on the card, which is always great to see on a budget device. The max recording resolution is 1080p@60fps and the quality is comparable with more expensive models that also offer 1080p recordings. The card works out of the box and is compatible with Windows (7 onwards) Max OS and Linux.

The HSV3217 is a perfect portable capture card, but it’s not the best choice if you own a PS4 Pro or the Xbox One X. If you need a 4K HDMI pass-through in a portable package there are better choices out there. But for users on a budget in need of a 1080p capture card and for those who want to game and stream on a single monitor, this is the best budget buy on the market.

  • USB-C Connectivity
  • Excellent Portability
  • Simple To Use
  • Works On Windows, Mac, And Linux
  • Great For The Switch, PS4, And Xbox One S
  • 1080p HDMI Pass-Through Isn’t The Best Choice For PS4 Pro And Xbox One X

Razer Ripsaw HD

The Best Capture Card For PS4 Pro And Xbox One X

razer ripsaw hd
  • Max Recording Resolution: 1080p at 60fps
  • Interface: USB-C
  • Video And Audio Ports: HDMI In, HDMI Out, 3.5mm Audio Jack x 2 For Recording Audio

At the moment the Razer Ripsaw HD is the best choice for owners of 4K consoles (PS4 Pro and Xbox One X). This capture card should also be a great choice for next-gen consoles since it comes with a 4K@60fps HDMI pass-through. It doesn’t support 4K@120fps output of the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X but compared to other capture cards, the Ripsaw HD is the best choice for next-gen consoles at the moment.

The card supports 1080p capture quality and while it doesn’t come with any capture software the setup is pretty straightforward. The Ripsaw HD working fine with the most popular capture software such as the OBS and Xsplit. Capture lag is low so you can play and stream games on the same monitor. The card uses USB-C to connect to the PC and it supports USB 3.0 interface. You can also find headphone and microphone inputs on the card, so you can record yourself along with the game audio during streams.

Now, while this model scored well in expert reviews, there’s a bunch of user reviews mentioning all kinds of issues, mostly audio related. It seems that the Razer Synapse software is needed in order to eliminate some audio bugs but still, many other issues remain. If you’re eyeing the Ripsaw HD, be ready for some troubleshooting and a host of potential issues. Also, the card supports 1440p output resolution, but only at 30 frames per second. Other than that, this is a phenomenal capture card that sells at a very competitive price.

  • Easy To Use
  • 4K@60fps HDMI Pass-Through
  • Excellent Price Considering The Features
  • Great For PS4 Pro, Xbox One X, And Next-Gen Consoles
  • Perfect For Streaming And Playing Games On The Same Monitor
  • User Reviews Mention A Bunch Of Issues With Sound, Set-Up Process
  • HDMI Pass-Through Supports 1440p, But Only At 30fps
  • No Capture Software Is Included With The Card

Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+

The Best Standalone Capture Card On The Market

elgato game capture 4k60 s plus
  • Max Recording Resolution: 4K at 60fps
  • Interface: USB-C
  • Video And Audio Ports: HDMI In, HDMI Out, 3.5mm Headphone In

In case you need a standalone capture card and you can’t settle for anything lower than 4K video recording, the Elgato Game Capture 4K60 S+ is made just for you. It can work in standalone mode and record gameplay directly on an SD card (the device requires at least UHS Class 3 and/or V30 SD card to record at 4K and 60 frames per second), or you can hook it up to a PC and use it for streaming or recording gameplay.

It seems that, while in standalone mode, you cannot record gameplay at 4K with HDR, a feature that works when the capture card is hooked to a PC. When it comes to the HDMI pass-through, it supports up to 4K and 60 frames per second. The card has up to 250ms of capture lag so it cannot be used to play games and stream on one monitor. As for the supported resolutions, the card doesn’t support 1440p, only 1080p (and lower resolutions) and 4K, up to 60 frames per second.

The card’s also quite expensive and it requires a very fast, high-capacity SD card in order to have enough space for longer, 4K videos in standalone mode, which is another expense. At the end of the day, this is an excellent standalone capture card that’s perfect for 4K-capable consoles but it does lack some pretty handy features found on cheaper models, such as the Instant Gameview feature. Further, you’ll also need a beefy PC to edit all those 4K HDR videos you record. Finally, user reviews mention a bunch of issues with the card, ranging from the card refusing to work in standalone mode to audio issues, with other specific issues in between.

  • Can Record 4K Videos Directly To An SD Card
  • Simple To Use
  • Great For 4K Capable Consoles
  • 4K@60 HDMI Pass-Through That Supports HDR Content
  • User Reviews Report Lots Of Issues
  • The Card’s Very Expensive
  • No Instant Gameview Feature

How To Choose A Capture Card

Below you’ll find a list of the most important features to look for when buying a new capture card. Stuff like the quality of the HDMI pass-through, recording quality, capture lag, etc.

System Requirements

Even capture cards that come with a hardware encoder require more than a potato PC. While hardware requirements for all sans 4K@60Hz capture cards are relatively humble (most require five years old CPUs such as Core i5 4xxx series, and even older graphics cards such as the GTX 6xx) you should definitely check system requirements for each card before making a purchase.

If you want to get a capture card that can record videos at 4K, you’ll need a beefy graphics card, relatively capable CPU (think something like the Intel Core i5 6xxx series, 1st gen Ryzen 7 CPU, or higher), and lots of RAM (minimum 8GB). And if you want to comfortably edit 4K videos, you’ll need an even beefier PC.

Capture Quality And HDMI Pass-Through

Most capture cards can capture and record gameplay in 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second. You can buy a 4K@60fps capture card but these are pretty expensive so be ready to pay a premium for a high-end capture card. Also, some cards support HDR content but that’s also considered a premium feature, available only on high-end models. Finally, if you want to stream and record gameplay make sure that the card includes the Master Copy or an equivalent feature. In other words, high enough bandwidth to enable streaming and recording at the same time.

If you’re a streamer, 1080p@60Hz is the sweet spot, making for a great viewing experience when paired with a quality webcam for streaming. If you create gameplay videos or reviews, 4K capture quality does matter since there’s more and more 4K gaming content on YouTube. Also, don’t forget that not all capture cards can record more than one audio source. If you need that feature look for cards featuring 3.5mm jacks for headsets and microphones.

When it comes to the HDMI pass-through, you can find 4K60fps quality even on some mid-range models. HDR content is supported only on high-end models, as well as high refresh rates. Do note that even the high-end cards top out at 4K@60hz HDMI pass-through due to the limits of the HDMI 2.0 technology. Finally, most capture cards support only 1080p and lower, or 4K resolution. If you need a card with 1440p HDMI pass-through support you should first take a look at cards made primarily for the PC platform.

Portability And Standalone Video Recording

Some capture cards offer standalone video recording (usually on a MicroSD or regular SD card). These cards are great for portable recording or in case you own a Nintendo Switch, but they cannot be used for live streaming without a PC. Also, standalone capture cards usually suffer from high capture lag.

Playing And Streaming Games On One Monitor

In order to play and stream games on one monitor, or to play games on a monitor that doesn’t have an HDMI input, you’ll need a capture card with low capture latency. This way you can play a game in the capture preview window of the streaming app you’re using without noticeable lag. Not all capture cards come with low capture latency (especially standalone ones) so be careful when buying a capture card if you need that feature.

Using The Card For PC Or Consoles

Depending on your gaming platforms of choice you’ll be either be better with a PC-specific or a console capture card. Capture cards made primarily for PC use PCIe connection, their HDMI pass-through supports a wider range of resolutions and frame rates (especially on high-end models), and they are best in case your game both on a PC and a console.

External capture cards are usually better to use with consoles since they are portable, they connect to a PC via USB, and are usually much simpler to use than PCIe capture cards, which have to be installed inside a PC case, and aren’t portable at all.

Next-Gen Consoles And HDMI 2.1

When it comes to the next-gen console support, you won’t find any capture card at the moment offering full PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X support. In reality, most cards should work fine with next-gen consoles. The issue is that there’s no capture card on the market right now with HDMI 2.1 port, needed for 4K@120fps pass-through since some of the PS5 and Xbox Series X games will work at 4K and 120 frames per second.

If you’re looking for a capture card that fully supports next-gen consoles, you won’t find any. Even the best models on the market top out at 4K@60 so you won’t be able to get the full next-gen experience in certain titles while using any current capture card. We will certainly get HDMI 2.1 equipped capture cards at some point; we just don’t know when.

About The Author

Goran Damnjanovic

Goran studied psychology but video games and PC hardware were much more interesting. On top of that he likes writing so he decided to become a writer. And it was the right choice. Other than games and hardware, Goran is interested in basketball, Sci-Fi literature, and music.

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2 months ago

* Live Gamer 4K by AverMedia not in the article.
* Datapath Vision not mentioned in the article
* No BlackMagic Design cards mentioned in the article